Multiple Myeloma Glossary



























Here are definitions for some of the terms used when discussing multiple myeloma:

Allergic reaction

The body's overreaction to a substance called an allergen.


A protein produced by plasma cells that helps protect the body from infection and disease.

Autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT)

A procedure in which stem cells collected from a patient are transplanted back into that patient. This is the most common type of transplant performed in multiple myeloma.


A protein found on the surface of certain cells and in high numbers on myeloma cells.


A chemical drug that stops the growth of cancer cells, either by killing them or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, or infusion, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or biologic therapy.

Combination therapy

Use of more than one medicine to treat a certain disease or condition.

Complete response

When the doctor observed no signs or symptoms of the disease as seen through imaging or other specific blood and bone marrow tests after treatment.

Disease progression

Cancer continuing to grow or spread.


Deoxyribonucleic acid, the main component of chromosomes, and the carrier of genetic information.


Reddening of the skin.


The way in which different ingredients are combined to make a medicine.


An ingredient that helps to disperse fluid and/or medicine throughout the body.

Immune system

Several types of cells and organs that work together to help the body fight infections and other diseases.

Immunomodulatory agents

Drugs that change a patient’s immune response by enhancing or suppressing the immune system.


Drugs that stimulate or suppress the immune system to help treat or prevent disease.

Infusion or injection reaction

An allergic or adverse reaction due to certain substances being released in the body when a drug is given intravenously or subcutaneously. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, tightness in the throat, a runny or stuffy nose, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, headache, itching, and nausea.

Injection-site reaction

A response of the skin and subcutaneous tissues to any substance introduced with a needle.

Intravenous (IV) infusion

Medicines or other fluids given through a needle or tube inserted into the vein.

Minimal residual disease (MRD)

The presence of small numbers of multiple myeloma cells during or after treatment, even when the patient shows no symptoms or signs of disease.

Monoclonal antibodies

Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies that are man-made and are designed to work with your immune system to treat disease.


Use of one type of medicine to treat a certain disease or condition.


A monoclonal antibody made in abnormal quantities by myeloma cells and found in large quantities in the blood and urine.

Multiple myeloma

A type of cancer formed by cancerous (also called “malignant”) plasma cells. Plasma cells are mainly found in the bone marrow.

Overall response

A measurement made during or after treatment that measures how many patients in a clinical study respond to a specific therapy.

Overall survival (OS)

The length of time from the beginning of treatment in which diagnosed patients are still living.

Partial response (PR)

When there is a greater than 50% decrease in M-protein and disappearance of some (but not all) signs and symptoms of cancer.

Progression-free survival (PFS)

The length of time from the beginning of treatment in which a patient is living with a disease that does not get worse.

Proteasome inhibitors

Drugs that slow down cancer cell growth by interfering with processes that play a role in cell function.


A molecule made up of amino acids that is needed for the body to function properly. Proteins are the basis of skin, hair, and other substances in the body.


A plan for treating a condition, such as multiple myeloma. A treatment regimen may use only one medication or it may use several medications together.

Side effect

An unwanted or unexpected reaction to a drug. Side effects can vary from minor problems like a headache or runny nose to life-threatening events, such as an increased risk of a heart attack. Sometimes referred to as an adverse event.

Stem cell

A cell that helps make other types of cells. Blood cells are created from blood-forming stem cells.

Subcutaneous injection

An injection given through a needle into the fatty tissue below the skin.

Very good partial response (VGPR)

A treatment outcome in which there is a greater than 90% decrease in M-protein.